Homework Help

What is a good example of an allusion?

user profile pic

fani19 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 15, 2009 at 3:12 AM via web

dislike 3 like

What is a good example of an allusion?

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted September 15, 2009 at 4:28 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

I am not sure whether you are interested in an allusion in "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" or are interested in allusion generally. As I read the poem, I see no allusions, although there are many other literary devices.

However, it is easy to create your own allusions. They can be references to books, movies, songs, or art. Here are some of my examples:

This sea voyage is not going well.  There must be a Jonah on board. 

This is an allusion to the Bible story of Jonah and the whale.

This responsibility is too much for me.  I feel as though I have an albatross around my neck

This is an allusion to a great poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' by Coleridge in which the albatross is hung around the neck of the man who shot it, as a punishment.

That man is a cheap Scrooge. 

This is an allusion to Dickens' famous character in The Christmas Carol."

Climbing into this cave, I feel like I am looking for the Lost Ark.

This is an allusion to the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Not only are there thousands of allusions in literature and in movies, we use them frequently in our everyday lives. See if you can come up with some, too! 

user profile pic

martaukrainochka | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted September 15, 2009 at 6:11 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

A reference to an historical or literary figure or event.

Example: I am no Prince Hamlet.

Often confused with illusion, an allusion is a literary term that refers to a reference in one literary work to another literary work. E.g. The Simpsons television show constantly refers to (some may say, steals from) movies, music, literature etc. In a scene where Principal Skinner is in his office, he suddenly turns to his window and looks out at an old, spooky house while he talks about a tormented relationship with his mother. This is an allusion to the Norman Bates character in the movie Psycho.

I highly recommended M.H. Abram's Glossary of Literary Terms.

Another example of an allusion would be "The girl's love of sweets was her Achilles heel," referencing the warrior in Greek mythology, Achilles, who could only be harmed if something hit his heel because he was dipped in magic water as baby when his mother held him by a heel. Achilles' only weakness is his heel, so an Achilles heel reference means a downfall or weakness, in this example a weakness for sweets.

user profile pic

thewanderlust878 | TA , Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted December 8, 2014 at 3:38 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Great questions! An allusion is a term that not many know the exact meaning of. In a nutshell, allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance. It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. It is just a passing comment and the writer expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text.

A great example is Shakespeare. For example,

"Don't act like a Romeo around her" - in reference to Romeo & Juliet

Hope this helps!

Sources:

user profile pic

martaukrainochka | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted September 15, 2009 at 6:09 AM (Answer #2)

dislike -1 like

Hm, I'll try to answer this question..

user profile pic

lovepeacea | Student | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted July 21, 2011 at 9:43 AM (Answer #4)

dislike -1 like

A man in tights LOL

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes